Henry Wemyss Feilden was born in Kildare in 1838. He was educated at Cheltenham College and in 1856, was commissioned into the army, serving in India and China before volunteering for the Confederate army during the American Civil War. An amateur naturalist with a particular interest in ornithology, Feilden was appointed by the Royal Society of London to serve as one of two naturalists with the British Arctic Expedition, 1875-1876 (leader George Strong Nares). The expedition was sent by the Admiralty to attempt to reach the North Pole by way of Smith Sound and to explore the coasts of Greenland and adjacent lands. Feilden participated in several sledging journeys, making important collections and observations, especially on the geology and biology of the region.
After the expedition, Feilden returned to active service, participating in the South African campaign between 1880 and 1881. He visited Spitsbergen and Novaya Zemlya as a naturalist on private expeditions between 1894 and 1897, publishing short notes on his findings. During the Boer War, he returned to South Africa as Paymaster of the Imperial Yeomanry, retiring from the army as a colonel. He died in 1921.
From the guide to the Henry Feilden collection, 1876-1917, (Scott Polar Research Institute, University of Cambridge)